Amherst Magazine

Leonard E. Hurtz '39

Leonard E. Hurtz '39 died on April 16, 2009.

LEONARD EUGENE HURTZ ’39

Leonard Eugene (Gene) Hurtz of South Hadley, Mass., and Marathon, Fla., passed away April 16, 2009. He was born in Lincoln, Neb., on July 19, 1917. Gene was raised in Omaha, Neb. Gene was a member of Beta Theta Pi while at Amherst College. Gene married Dorothy (Casey) Miller Campbell of Lincoln on April 5, 1941. He then served in U.S. Navy in the Pacific during WWII, working in coding and communications, and was promoted to lieutenant senior grade.

Gene was an astute businessman who purchased the A&W Root Beer Company of Santa Monica, Calif., in 1950 when it was a modest enterprise. Gene expanded the company to an international business with over 2,000 restaurants reaching as far as the Philippines. He introduced a variety of features that have become standard practice in the restaurant industry. At the time of his retirement in 1964, A&W was the largest franchised drive-in chain in the world.

Gene loved jazz music, attending live performances by the musical legends of jazz from the 1930s onwards. He and Casey traveled worldwide, including yearly tours of jazz festivals and Shakespeare plays. A loyal Amherst College alumnus, Gene was a regular at Class Reunions until the last year of his life.

Gene and Casey lived for many years in Malibu, Calif., and in 1989 began wintering on the Florida Keys in Marathon. In 2003, they moved into Loomis Village in South Hadley, Mass., where they spent their summers.    

He is survived by his wife and his sisters, Margaret Watson of Omaha, Neb., and Sarah Robbins of Saratoga, Calif.; his nieces, Sarah Watson of Omaha, Neb.; Barbara Watson of Gill, Mass.; Anne Born of Brookline, Mass.; Peggy Davis of Los Gatos, Calif.; Elizabeth Robbins of Ross, Calif.; and Susan Greenway of Seattle, Wash.; and his nephew John Watson of Lincoln, Neb.

—Henry W. Seeley ’39

 

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